The second and final report of the Football Review Committee set up by Uachtarán Liam Ó Néill in April 2012 has been published and deals with competition structures and associated issues at different levels of Gaelic football with a view to eliminating some of the anomalies that have existed in recent years.
Competition structures are at the very heart of how football operates and there were broadly two key aspects to be addressed: Inter-County structures and club fixture-making.
Eugene McGee, FRC
Click here to read the report in full
This second report draws, as did the initial FRC report, upon the findings of the largest consultation process ever undertaken by the GAA which resulted in some 4,000 people from 32 counties and overseas, voicing their opinions on Gaelic football.
Speaking at the launch the FRC Chairman, Eugene McGee, said: “Competition structures are at the very heart of how football operates and there were broadly two key aspects to be addressed: Inter-County structures and club fixture-making. These two facets of the game are inextricably linked and the FRC seeks to alter some things for the benefit of both sections.”
It is proposed to adjust the four provinces slightly so as to arrive at eight teams in each province. Such an adjustment would allow for much improved streamlining of Inter-County championship fixtures, dates could be planned in an orderly fashion around the country and as a result there should be more scope for better fixture-making at local level.
The FRC is proposing that all counties must play some club championship games from mid-April to early August in order to give the 98% of players who are only involved in club games a fair chance of getting regular championship games in those months. The All-Ireland Qualifiers would remain as they are.
It is also proposed over a period of time to change the age-limit for the minor football grade from Under-18 at present to Under-17. This is to alleviate the pressure for minor players preparing for the Leaving Cert/A Levels, the vast majority of whom are in the U-18 grade. A change to early December is proposed for the final of the All-Ireland Club Championship and it is felt that the National League Division I should consist of the top two teams playing a final with no semi-finals.
Rather than attempt to revive a secondary All-Ireland championship for less successful counties, the FRC proposes a 3-5 year GAA development programme in conjunction with those counties, with substantial financial and coaching resources being designated specifically for this purpose, and under strict supervision, with the aim of producing more talented players for the future leading to stronger county senior panels.
The aim of the FRC is to create a situation where Inter-County games would be fairer, with each province being equal in numbers and the opportunity to have a championship which makes a much greater impact in its earlier stages.
The FRC also believes its recommendations would provide the dedicated club player with an opportunity to get a fair crack of the whip by having club games staged in an orderly and most importantly, a regular manner through the summer months, thereby avoiding the pile-ups that are so common in October-November-December in recent years.
Eugene McGee summed up by saying that: “It is the strong belief of the FRC that remedies can be found which satisfactorily address the problems which have been highlighted. Many of the substantive remedies proposed in this report would need Congress approval, while some others are a matter of implementation of already agreed regulations and procedures.”
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill said: “I would like to place on record once again my sincere gratitude to Eugene McGee and the entire committee who have worked diligently since their appointment to produce two thought provoking documents.
“The fruits of the first one will come into effect in the next few weeks and the publication of this proposals will no doubt engender health debate around our competition structures, which can only be of benefit to the game of football.”
The full report and recommendations of the Football Review Committee can be found at www.frc.ie and at www.gaa.ie